Park Maintenance

Yellowstone’s facilities and infrastructure are distributed across seven districts that are geographically separated over its 2.2 million acres. The Park’s Maintenance staff oversee the daily operation of campgrounds, buildings, restroom facilities, grounds, roads, trails, transportation systems, and utilities.

YNP Maintenance Division Org Chart

The Park’s Maintenance Division is headed by a Chief, who has a staff of well over 100 people working for him/her to help keep the park’s infrastructure in operating condition.  The Chief is assisted by two Deputy Chiefs, one of whom oversees the civil engineering shops and trail maintenance operations, and the other who oversees the seven district operations that keep the roads, facilities, and grounds in working order.  Additionally, the Maintenance Division has an environmental specialist, a housing management staff, facility operations specialists, and administrative support personnel to help it perform its mission.

The Civil Engineering staff includes specialists in utility operations (including water and wastewater systems operations), landscape architecture, civil, mechanical, and construction engineering, facilities management, environmental science, trails maintenance, electricians, painters, plumbers, carpenters, etc.

Each District is overseen by a supervisor who has a team of mechanics, electricians, utility operators, road and grounds crews, vehicle operators, laborers, and others.  The supervisor is responsible for all basic maintenance operations in his/her district.

Maintenance in the park generally falls into four broad categories: Road, Trails, Transportation Systems, and Utilities.

Road Maintenance: Park staff strive to ensure that the park’s 466 miles of roads are safe, regularly checking for hazards such as rockfall, fallen trees or limbs, potholes, and washed-out shoulders. Personnel also create and install signs. Yellowstone’s rugged conditions require season-specific activities to make the park accessible to visitors, including installing 7,000 snow poles; grooming 184 miles for travel by oversnow vehicles; performing avalanche control; plowing and sanding during winter; and conducting spring snow removal activities to prepare roads for car travel.

Trail Maintenance: Yellowstone maintains approximately 1,000 miles of interconnected backcountry trails. Activities involve inspecting treadway, trail structures, and hazards; cleaning drainage structures; and removing rockfall and debris. The park has approximately 15 miles of boardwalks that provide access to numerous features in popular geyser basins, waterfalls, and other attractions. These are regularly inspected, swept, and maintained.

Transportation Systems and Fleet Operations: Yellowstone’s Transportation Systems include a large, diverse vehicle fleet (850+ units), more than 90 horses and mules, contract aviation services, and several marine craft.

  • Vehicle Fleet: Fleet managers purchase and assign vehicles to park staff, including oversnow vehicles (100+ snowmobiles and several snow groomers). Most units are outdated and need replacing. Managers are developing a cyclic replacement program that reflects recommendations from major fleet operators in the private sector.
  • Aviation: All aircraft used at Yellowstone are contracted or rented through the Interior Department’s Office of Aircraft Services Aircraft Rental Agreement. Each year, approximately 1,000 helicopter flight hours supported wildland fire operations, and 50 helicopter hours supported wildlife capture operations, search and rescue and law enforcement activities, and administrative projects. Over 1,100 fixed-wing hours are flown each year in support of these activities.
  • Marine Vessels:  The water fleet consists of 17 motorized boats that range from 18 to 32 feet in length. The park also has several dozen canoes, kayaks, and dinghies that are used for ranger patrols, fisheries management, and occasional transport of other staff and equipment across Yellowstone or Lewis Lakes for tasks such as maintaining docks, removing trash, and rebuilding trails.
  • Horses and Mules: Corral operations personnel identify animals for replacement, select new stock, and provide all feed and training.

Utilities Operations: Utilities Operations include solid waste, electricity, water, and wastewater operational activities.

  • Solid Waste: This operation collects, transports, and disposes of park-generated garbage, recyclables, and other waste. Yellowstone generates approximately 3,000 tons of solid waste per year.
  • Electricity: The park provides electricity to all buildings and pays its electricity providers almost $1 million per year. In addition, Yellowstone operates 21 generators at 13 locations, as well as several photovoltaic systems.
  • Water Systems: The park ensures uninterrupted service from 15 public water and 6 nonpublic water systems. Over 300 million gallons of water are treated annually and distributed through 600,000 feet of service-distribution lines with a storage capacity of over 7.5 million gallons of potable water
  • Wastewater Systems: Yellowstone operates a tertiary wastewater facility, 5 secondary treatment facilities, 32 sewage lift stations, and 21 septic systems with subsurface drain fields. All wastewater systems are monitored and tested to meet federal and state requirements.